Lau Kar Leung, Liu Chia Hui , Alexander Fu Sheng , Lau Kar Wing
Directed By : Lau Kar Leung
Legendary Weapons of China
Yes the third in our Spring of Shaw Season reviews for 2015 is this 1982 classic from Lau Kar - Leung who Directs,stars as well as being the screenplay writer .
This is one of only four screenplays that Lau wrote throughout his career.
The film focuses on the Boxer Rebellion in the Qing dynasty , but here the story is somewhat fantasy as it incorporates Taoist Maoshan magic which for a film directed by Lau Kar Leung is a bit at odds with his traditionalist views on making martial arts films.
Basically Emperor dowager orders that her agents find supernatural fighters within the Boxer Rebellion who can train men to be impervious to Bullets which are often used by there Western foes.
The film focuses on one of the factions leaders by the name of Lei Kung ( Lau Kar Leung) who disbands his group in order to protect his men from being slain within training as he found it barbaric and ludicrous that such a thing could be possible.
The other boxer clans have orders to find Lei Kung and assassinate him , they say he can be identified by his knowledge of the eighteen legendary weapons of Kung Fu .
Ti Tian ( Gordon Liu Chia Hui ) a leader of a opposing clan has taught his men to be impervious to swords but has allowed in their training to resist bullets only to have them be killed by such training.
Ti Tian sets out on his mission to find Lei Kung along with other members of the clan also focusing on finding Lei Kung in their own way.
The film is quite strange to be honest ,especially the first half where it's a combination of training exercises featuring magic and escapism techniques using smoke , fantasy weapons and cloaks that make you disappear and not forgetting the endless leaping 300ft in the air.
Adding more obscure plots to the film are Alexander Fu Sheng who appears as a con artist in a small role ,this side story actually takes a good proportion of the film, also the con artist character is somewhat of a way to add comedy to the film in way to cash in on the Comedy Kung Fu craze which started with Jackie Chan's Snake in Eagles Shadow.
But the writing for this is overly slapstick and does not meld well and is quite embarrassing to watch in places knowing what roles Fu Sheng had previously done.
Thing was by the time this film was released the likes of Drunken Master, Crystal Fist,Young Master and Dragon Lord had incorporated comedy in Kung Fu to good effect.
Kara Hui also stars as Fang another member of the same group as Ti Tian who also is on the hunt for Lei Kung , she digresses herself as a man on her mission ,but of course the comedy here is it probably pays homage to the likes of Come Drink with Me.
Lau Kar Leung's brother Lau Kar Wing stars as another rival clan leader who also on the hunt for Lei Kung ,who actually is Lei Kung's brother Lei Ying.
Half way through the film the whole style of film seems to change as it takes on a more traditional Kung Fu film, as the various factions try to locate Lei Kung they encounter a woodcutter names Yu who has great ability in martial arts and our assassins suspect is probably Lei Kung .
This sets up the film for some dramatic training sequences and the final battle where we are treated to series of fights in various locations each showcasing the eighteen weapons of Kung Fu ..
From the beginning I was unsure about the film and it's Maoshan magic content. It just did not capture my attention , unlike say the later Taoist films with Lam Ching Ying or Wu Ma .
It seems to me the Golden Harvest group and it's film makers had better interpretations of such content matter.
I thought I might not get to involved in the film , but once the Maoshan element became more of a back story the film took more hold on me and the final half proved entertaining throughout .
But summing up , this is a great showcase for Lau Kar Leung's weapon ability along with his brother Lau Kar Wing and Gordon Liu.
As a story it may not grab your intention and really is a beer and pizza movie at best. You just don't care who wins or loses . The fighting is top notch but character development is no where.
It's worth a watch for the action and some of the crazy stunt work, but it can not be compared to the likes of Lau's other works like Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Heroes of the East ( Shaolin vs Ninja).
So not one of Lau Kar Leungs best works even though it was nominated for best choreography at 1983 Hong Kong Film awards, but that's OK as it was not his last and he made quite a few more great films before his retirement in 2005 after he starred and action directed Tsui Hark's Seven Swords, which he won Best action Choreography for in 2005 at the Golden Horse awards.
Review Date April 12th 2015
Posters © Shaw Brothers 1982 / Celestial Pictures / Image Entertainment Inc 2009
|Directed by||Lau Kar-leung|
|Produced by||Mona Fong|
Alexander Fu Sheng
|Distributed by||Shaw Brothers Studio|
1982 (Hong Kong)
Lau Kar Leung as Uncle Yu / Lei Kung
Lau Kar Wing as Lei Ying
Hsiao Ho as Ti Hau
Hui Ying Hung as Fang Shao Ching
Gordon Liu Chia Hui as Ti Tan
Fu Sheng as Con Artist
Another gallery of stills from the film on a Facebook page which we are admins for